Sturm, Ruger & Co is definitely a favorite among hunters. The brand just keeps knocking the ball out of the park with rifles such as the Ruger Precision, 10/22 and Ruger American, among others. One shining example is the Ruger American Predator bolt-action rifle. It’s a well-designed rifle built for long-range precision shooting and available in several calibers including 6.5 Creedmoor, .308 Winchester, and .223 Remington. After being unveiled in 2012, it has become a top choice.
Given its reliability, versatility, accuracy, and performance, I’m pretty sure hunters always do a double-take when looking at the price tag. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more accurate rifle for the money. The reason the Ruger American Predator is a popular choice—almost as popular as the standard Ruger American—is its overall value, and aftermarket possibilities.
The most noticeable difference between the Ruger American and Predator models is the Predator rifle features a cold hammer-forged threaded barrel that can accommodate a suppressor or a muzzle brake. Not only is it easy to operate and capable of precision shooting at extreme distance, customizing it is almost effortless.
The Predator model has a heavy taper barrel, but at 6.5 pounds, it’s still lightweight. The Ruger American Predator features a one-piece scope rail and moss green synthetic stock. Magazines and sling swivel studs are included with your purchase. As the name suggests, the Ruger American Predator primarily intended for predator hunting, but due to the many varieties of calibers available, you can also hunt deer, elk, and other types of game with this rifle.
Customizing Your Ruger American Predator
For just under $1,000, you can buy the Ruger American Predator, restock on ammo, and completely customize it to your liking with an optic and bipod.
It’s already an exemplary long-range hunting rifle, but if you want to give it a different feel, it can be greatly improved and customized according to your preferences. So, here are the essential parts, some optional but interesting accessories, and ammo boxes that will take the already impeccable performance of the American Predator bolt-action to perfection.
Scopes & Optics
The reason this bolt-action rifle has such a reputation for precision shooting out to 1,000 yards is the Ruger barrel. It’s practically made for sub-MOA, long-distance shooting, and it definitely needs an optic for that range. So, after buying the Ruger American Predator, your first priority should be grabbing a decent optic.
You can find Ruger American Predator models with a Vortex Crossfire II scope, but the Picatinny one-piece scope rail begs for a high-quality, long-range optic lens. The Vortex Optics Viper scope is an example of a great option.
For the price, the Viper can hold its own at extended range. The Vortex VMR-1 reticle (MOA) has multi-coated, low dispersion lenses for better resolution, light-gathering, and color clarity. The 4x zoom with side-focus parallax adjustment is suitable for ranges up to 800 yards.
Athlon Optics Argos BTR, 6-24×50 First Focal Plane (FFP)
If you think the Viper is too expensive, here’s a more affordable option. The Argos BTR Riflescope from Athlon Optics has a 6-24×50 first focal plane reticle with advanced, multi-coated lenses that offer excellent light transmission for a fair price.
The 30mm tube is of decent quality, and the APMR MIL-SPEC illuminated reticle has a simplistic design that has high shock resistance to recoil. The tube is made of 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum that’s waterproof and durable.
Vortex 6.5-20×50 Parallax Adjustable Viper
The Viper 6.5-20×50 PA (Parallax Adjustable) optic costs as much as the Ruger American Predator, but you best believe it’s the only scope you’ll ever need. It fits the rifle fantastically and it has a VIP (lifetime) warranty. The scope is capable of 1,000-yard shooting with 20x magnification using zero-stop turrets that are ¼ MOA click adjustable. You can easily fine-tune your scope using the side focus parallax adjustment—even while your cheek is on the stock.
The Viper has a 30mm main tube with a hard-anodized finish that offers solid shockproof durability, while the MIL-Dot reticle helps calculate the range, windage, and holdover.
The Viper optic is a premium option that offers the essentials in long-range shooting when paired with the American Predator. Its consistency and overall quality when paired with this Ruger rifle are a precision-shooting force to be reckoned with.
For other rifle scopes under $300, check out our list of best rifle scopes here.
CVLIFE 6-9 Tactical Rifle Bipod
The CVLIFE 6-9 Tactical Rifle Bipod is a great budget option. It provides sturdy support, and is an excellent tactical option, thanks to its Picatinny mount adapter. Given the lightweight design, durability, hardened stainless steel, and aluminum construction, it’s amazing the price is so low.
The CVLIFE offers strong tension screws, and the adjustable spring-loaded legs make it a very mobile and flexible bipod option. It’s easy to dismount and works perfectly for the American Predator. Some users have experienced leveling issues. However, it’s a great aftermarket option that’s well within the $1,000 price range when combined with the rifle and other upgrades.
I personally like the factory trigger on the Ruger American Predator. It offers a crisp release at 3–5 lbs of pull weight. However, if it doesn’t feel right for you, there’s only one viable and worthy replacement (in my opinion): the Timney Trigger.
The Timney Trigger is an excellent upgrade that is capable of improving your overall feel of shooting. It’s definitely one of the most important and prized aftermarket upgrades for the Predator rifle—when the stock trigger doesn’t do it for you. You can completely change how the trigger feels by making it lighter and more crisp. You can adjust the pull weight from 1.5 to 4 pounds. Best of all, the Timney trigger will only set you back about $130.
If you’d like to customize your follow-through, turn the overtravel screw clockwise when the trigger is in the fire position. After it stops, turn it slightly counterclockwise with an Allen wrench until you reach your desired follow-through. It’ll break like a Canadian icicle.
Magpul Hunter American Stock
The downside of the American Predator is definitely the stock. It’s decent, but most users and hunters complain about the comb height and dislike the fact that the stock flexes—especially when using bipods.
As one of the most versatile stocks on the market, the Magpul Hunter Stock offers sturdiness and durability that factory-made stocks lack. You can find various styles and colors, but I like to keep it matte green. Besides the recoil pad, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s soft and has a good grip, but I believe it could be improved with some minor adjustments.
There are other aftermarket stocks, but the Magpul feels just right—especially when using a bipod. The reinforced polymer construction, aluminum bedding, and excellent adjustability make this yet another essential aftermarket upgrade for the Ruger.
The 6.5 Creedmoor loading is versatile, and the market offers several options that are well suited to the Ruger American Predator. There’s no need for fancy stuff. Try the Sellier & Bellot 131-grain or my personal favorite, the Winchester Expedition 142-grain.
I’ve had nothing but sub-MOA shots at 100 yards with 142-grain bullets, and Winchester has proven its mettle time and again. Just straight flat-shooting, long-range accuracy, with controlled expansion for thick hide penetration and good knockdown power. You’re welcome to try other bullets around the 170-grain range as well.
Conclusion: Accurate Shots Worth Every Dollar
All it needs is a little push, and the Ruger American Predator can be close to perfection for any hunter or long-range shooter that’s looking for an accurate sub-MOA bolt-action rifle.
The Ruger American Predator is an excellent bolt-action rifle with great aftermarket options. It’s an astoundingly cost-effective firearm that focuses entirely on long-range accuracy. The price allows you to budget for additional customization options that take this rifle to the next level. That’s exactly what makes it so popular.
When you get your hands on a Ruger American Predator, deck it out by grabbing a Viper CVLIFE 6-9 Tactical Rifle Bipod, Magpul Hunter American Stock, Timney Trigger, and you’ll have an A+ setup that is perfect for long-distance hunting. Everything else depends on your taste and preference entirely, but in my opinion, the parts we mentioned can certainly be a step up for the Ruger American Predator.
The Ruger American Predator is already a highly-functional long-range rifle. Adding a few accessories that bumps the total price tag to the $1,000 range, and it can be close to perfection for any hunter or long-range shooter looking for an accurate sub-MOA bolt-action rifle.
Simply put, the Ruger American Predator is an impressive rifle for the price tag, and you can safely say that it’s a new standard in long-range rifles. It comes with sling swivels, has immense accuracy potential, and very manageable recoil for a rifle that is this lightweight.
What do you think of the Ruger American Predator? How would you upgrade it? Let us know in the comment section.
Brady Kirkpatrick is a passionate firearm owner from Omaha, Nebraska. He’s been shooting guns and hunting ever since he’s lived in the Midwest. He started his blog, Gun Made, as a project during COVID to provide guides for those looking to purchase their first gun and learn more about shooting.